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Tappin’ Away

I joined a site a few months back (hm, just about a year ago now!) that I’m *loving* – I’m not sure why I haven’t written about it before. The site is called Crowdtap, and it’s such a neat concept.You give your opinion to various brands – including Crowdtap itself – and just by giving your opinion, you have the chance to earn a little cash (via Amazon gift cards) and cash for your favorite charity! As of today, I’ve earned $323.75 for myself and $38.78 for my charity. (Pretty significant if you ask me!!)

My very favorite part of Crowdtap are the discussions. You are invited to discuss various things from “What did you do for Independence Day?” to “MSN Business on Main Street website design and user experience” to my favorite discussions: Fishful Thinking (which I’ve routinely written about here). I’ve loved the sense of community that the Fishful Thinking discussions have had and all of the ideas from other moms. Some of my favorite moments with the kids have come from ideas from those discussions.

I think the most significant experience I had was the Fight Back to Bounce Back discussion through Fishful Thinking. I even wrote about it. The discussion was about being your own biggest critic. Sometimes it takes someone mentioning a topic, and then you writing your own views out to realize what you’re actually DOING…and that was a huge “ah ha!” moment for me. I love most of the Fishful Thinking discussions because of these “ahha!” moments, but that one was by far the biggest. The other cool thing about the Fishful Thinking discussions is that there are articles and activities that go along with them – these are SO.HELPFUL when trying to figure out what the heck to do in such situations!

What else can you do with Crowdtap? Well, there are quick hits to rack up the points and there are sample shares that people get (based on demographics), like Old Navy and Adidas. There are also web shares (for more points). The site is just over a year old, so they’re still in their infancy … I can’t wait to see how far they go!

Fishful Thinking: Social Responsibility

This month’s Fishful Thinking newsletter is about Socializing Our Children to Social Responsibility.

It was timely because a few weeks ago I was trying to figure out how to get my kids more involved in community service around town. (I actually found a really great website for service ideas for kids!) The kids help me out every now and again when I put together a meal for a mom with a new baby and things like that, and we do a few things through church (I’m pretty sure that Feed to Read will be happening this summer), but I’m not sure that the kids really GET it yet. And some of those are on such a broad scale (rather than within our small community), that it’s really hard to understand how they are actually helping.

I also just learned that our town’s women’s group (that I’m a part of) is going to be pairing up with classes in the fall to help with community service ideas and to help teach kids to incorporate community service in every day life (I’m SO EXCITED for that!!)

What I like about Dr. Reivich’s newsletter this month is that she starts with YOU – the adult – and makes you look at what YOU do for community service. If you want to teach your children about community service, it’s important that they have a role model … and even more important that it’s you.

She asks that you “…Think about your own experiences with social responsibility” and asks the following questions:

  • What did you care deeply about as a child? How did it affect your behavior?
  • What social issues do you most care about now? How do these issues relate to your values?
  • How do you contribute to bettering the world and helping others?
  • How do you teach social responsibility to your children?

Then she gives tips for developing socially responsible children:

  • Brainstorm ideas that connect with your children’s interests
  • Let your kids be in charge
  • Join forces
  • Manage expectations
  • Practice what you preach

Of course, she goes into each point more in the newsletter – so it’s worth going over to check it out.

Are your kids involved in community service? And if so, what do they do? I’m always looking for ideas for how to get my kids involved.


Fishful Thinking: 101 Things to Do Before the End of Summer

This month’s newsletter is all about the 101 things you want to do before the end of Summer. Feels strange to be thinking about the END of Summer, but it totally makes sense to create a list of things to do over the Summer!

A sample from the newsletter:

Like the movie The Bucket List and the book A Thousand Places to See Before You Die, lists like these can be a fun way to motivate you and your family to do things that might otherwise never make your “to-do” list. The beauty of these lists is that they give your family a chance to share dreams, express what they enjoy most, and encourage them to do things you all will remember for years to come.

I asked the kids what they wanted to do this Summer and they came up with a pretty good list. I’m sure we’ll be adding to it (and only a few of the “planned activities” for the Summer made it onto their list, so these might fit in nicely around those.)

  1. Go to the beach
  2. Go to the swimming pool
  3. Go to Grandpa and Nana’s house
  4. Practice 1st grade books
  5. Go to a baseball game
  6. Play football
  7. So see a Hockey practice (Not sure when these actually start…)
  8. Run in the back yard
  9. Go Camping with a camp fire
  10. Go to the Zoo
  11. Eat lots of ice cream

There is more in the newsletter, so I encourage you to go check it out…and then make your own list!

Fishful Thinking: Fishful …Sleeping?

I’ve been having a hard time falling to sleep lately. And once I finally do, someone in the house usually wakes up … which means that I’m up again. As I was browsing through the Fishful Thinking site the other day, I came across an article on Relaxation Techniques.

Relaxation techniques often can help people with sleep problems get a good night’s sleep. Several relaxation techniques are listed [on the site].

  • Progressive Relaxation
  • Toe Tensing
  • Deep Breathing
  • Guided Imagery
  • Quiet Ears

The funny thing is, I’ve tried most of these! I totally remember my Mom using Progressive Relaxation with me. (And, remembering that it felt silly at the time *grin* – Sorry Mom!!) It’s great to have this resource as a reminder of things that have worked in the past, and as a toolbox full of ideas that I haven’t tried yet (like Quiet Ears).

And then I found the Controlled Breathing exercise to go along with it.

Relaxation strategies, like controlled breathing, can help you manage stress, create a sense of calm, and increase your overall resilience. The more you practice relaxation strategies, the more effective they will become. They’re great for the whole family and can be easily incorporated into bedtime routines.

Now, I realize that while these will help me to relax and even fall to sleep, they won’t help with the interrupted sleep … unless I can get them to work on the kids as well! Wish me luck 🙂

Fishful Thinking: Present Parenting

Last night I had the pleasure to dial in to a Fishful Thinking call that Dr. Reivich was running. This call was all about how to be a “present parent” (no…not a gift-giving parent, but one who is actually THERE when you’re with your children).

Dr. Reivich states:

Among the factors that promote resilience in children, connectedness is central. The knowledge that one is understood, valued, and “on the radar” of a caring, adult is essential for healthy child development. Giving our time to our children, therefore, is a critical resilient building parenting practice: “Being with” needs to be valued as much as “doing with”.

One of the greatest barriers to a child’s sense of “togetherness” is their ability to know where Mom or Dad really is in any moment.  Thus, one critical goal for parents is to enhance our ability to be present in the moment.

That means you need to try to find a way to quiet the inner distractions; try to forget about that “to do” list that is never-ending and be fully THERE when you’re with your kids. Dr. Reivich said she tries to activate all of her senses – intentionally – so that she is really just BEING in the moment. Easier said than done, huh? I have a MAJOR problem with putting my phone down and just paying attention to my kids when I’m with them. I’m always checking my email and FB and other sites…

Luckily, Dr. Reivich has some activities to help out. (Below)

Another point that was talked about is that is even more important to be present as your children get older. And if you start while they’re young, it’ll feel more natural as they get older (that’s my take on it anyway).

One of the points that hit me hard was to stop trying to force being present when everyone is tired. Find your family flow and find a time that makes sense for you and your family – and then schedule time in. Also, keep in mind that things are going to take a little longer than normal – but that’s good! Take your time and be in the moment.


These activities are taken straight from a worksheet that we received as part of the call-in session. I can’t wait to try them!!

Awareness activity:

For a week, keep track of your energy, mood, and activities. In one hour blocks:

  • Rate your energy on a 1-5 scale:
    • 1 = exhausted, depleted and 5 = bring it on!
  • Rate your mood on a 1- 5 scale:
    • 1 = leave me alone, I’m in a horrible mood and 5 = feeling positive, happy
  • Identify patterns: Are you a morning person? Evening person? When do you feel happiest?
  • Focus your “presence” time with your child when you have energy and tend to be in a positive mood.

Family Flow Activity:

  1. Set goal to have 20 minutes with your child without distractions (phones, computer, television, etc.) Make sure you are in a physical space that limits distractions (kitchens are not a good spot, bedrooms are better).
  2. Ask your child to pick an activity that he or she enjoys and finds challenging (Sudoku, brain teasers, playing music, etc.)
  3. Every time you find yourself distracted by your thoughts, remind yourself that this time is a gift to your child and refocus on him or her.

“In the Tent” activity (good for young children):

  1. Make a tent with your child out of blankets, or sit under the dining room table.
  2. Post a sign on the outside of the tent/table that says “Don’t disturb until XX:XX (fill in time). The sign helps your child to know that you are all hers for this period of time.
  3. Climb inside/under with books, puzzles, crayons, paper, dolls, action figures – whatever your child most enjoys.
  4. Every time you find yourself distracted by your thoughts, remind yourself that this time is a gift to your child and refocus on him or her.

Fishful Thinking: Create an Awe Wall

One of the activities this month for Fishful Thinking is to create an Awe Wall. I *LOVE* this idea! There are so many things out there that fill a child (or even an adult) with Awe – and it’s always been fun to point some of these things out for our family.

Awe is what we feel when we experience great goodness or great beauty. You might feel awe when staring at the Grand Canyon, or when watching strangers rally to help people suffering from a natural disaster. When we feel awe, we feel part of something much larger than ourselves; we feel connected to others and to the world.

Burke has always taken notice of the things outside the window. Even as a toddler, he’d point out the trees and things as we were driving along. Maggie takes notice of things, but it much quieter about it. Logan is (as usual) somewhere in between the two.

We haven’t started our Awe Wall yet (frankly, I’m not sure where we’ll put it), but I do know a few things we’ll add to it when the time comes! And perhaps we’ll just do a virtual wall for now. 🙂

One of the things that always fills me with awe – and I’m happy to report that it does the same for all of my kids – is a rainbow! They even ask if I can create one some days LOL!

“Rainbow” has been Burke’s favorite color for about a year now. And Logan has just declared that his favorite color is no longer orange, it’s rainbow.


I know that this year’s snowfall made everyone in our family sit up and take notice. There was a CRAZY amount of snow this year!! I think at one point we had about 60 inches of snow. Maybe more? I’m not even sure anymore…I’ve blocked it out 😉

It was one of those years where there was so much snow, you couldn’t even really go out and play in it. We couldn’t let the dog out into the back yard because he could just walk over the fence!


Recently, our church had a 30 hour famine held by the youth. These kids opted to not eat for 30 hours (they did have juice and water – so everyone was safe). They made sandwiches and soup and went into Boston to help feed some of the homeless there. Then they came back and told the entire congregation about their 30 hours (well, 24…they were still “in” the 30 hour time frame while at church – awaiting their rice and beans feast they’d all sit down to after church was over). The selflessness and willingness of these young people always fills me we such emotion. (geez, I’m getting teary just writing about it!) They take the time to really talk and get to know the homeless people they’re helping. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to take part! (I really wish I had a picture of these kids – they really are incredible.) And I think part of the reason that I’m filled with Awe at this is that there are probably over *50* kids who take part in it!

I can’t wait to start taking notice and add more to our wall (even if it is just a Word doc for now). What would go on your Awe Wall?

Fishful Thinking: Praise with a Purpose

Something I’ve been working on for a while now (ever since reading about it on the Fishful Thinking website when I first started with them) is praising the kids with a purpose. Sure, anyone can give an “Atta boy!” …but to really make a difference, you need to find something specific about that atta boy to praise.

For example, when Burke draws one of his pictures, I don’t just say “Great drawing, Burke! Awesome Job!” I try to say something like, “That’s a really cool drawing, Burke – I like the way you drew the horse from the bottom perspective rather than the top!”  I usually add in a “You worked really hard on that!” for good measure…especially when I know that he really did.

It’s hard to get going with this, but with some practice, it actually becomes habit.

Another good article to read is How Not to Talk to Your Kids. I think the Positive Praise and this article kind of go hand-in-hand. This one talks about how you may actually be causing your kids to under-perform if you keep telling them things like “You’re so smart!” (That’s where my “you worked really hard on that!” came from…)

Take note of the next time you’re praising your kid(s). Are you praising with a purpose? Are you giving them a complex? 😉 I’m sure I’m giving my kids some sort of complex, but I’m trying really hard to curb this one! 🙂

Joy Multiplier or Joy Thief?

This month, the topic of discussion with my Fishful Thinking peers is Multiplying Joy. Dr. Reivich states:

“By responding positively to others’ good news and sharing in their joy you are being a Joy Multiplier. On the flip side, when you do not show interest in the joy someone is sharing with you, you become a Joy Thief.”

And while the initial question asked was  “When are you a Joy Multiplier? What time of day do you respond most positively? What kinds of good news do you celebrate most with your children?” it kicked off some absolutely wonderful conversations!

My answer was:

I’d LIKE to say that I’m always a Joy Multiplier – whenever I hear good news I ask questions and get excited for the other person. And for the most part that’s true…except that whole “I’m *so* not a morning person” thing. Especially before I’ve had coffee…So, afternoons and early evenings are probably the time of day that I respond most positively.

I celebrate ALL good news with my children! Especially if it’s *their* good news. I’m all about celebrating even the “small” stuff – if you wait for the really big stuff, you may not ever celebrate – and that’s no fun. We’re always dancing 🙂

Of course, my fear is that I’m also a Joy Thief because there are definitely times when I’m just unable to celebrate at the exact moment my kids come running in with news. Someone else brought that up in their response and I was quick to point out that it sounded like she celebrates LOTS of stuff, so perhaps she’s just a Joy Postponer and not a Thief.

Do you see how this ties in with last month’s discussion about being your own biggest critic? I was immediately able to let this other wonderful mom off the hook and see how she isn’t a Joy Thief, but when thinking about myself I go right to that.

Anyway…back to Joy. I’ve been thinking about ways to increase being a Joy Multiplier. I’m going to TRY to drop everything when my kids come to me with something to celebrate; but realistically, I know that I’m not always “in the mood” or simply able to drop everything. Plus, I’m not sure what kind of message that sends to them when they’re “allowed” to interrupt each and every time they have something exciting to say (like, if I’m on the phone or talking with another adult).

And I think if we start writing out our Joy List more often … adding to it each and every time there’s something TO celebrate, we’d be multiplying it not only at the time of the initial joy, but each time we reread it.

Oh, and did you know that Happiness is Contagious in Social Networking? If you multiply your joy online, you’re making not only YOUR day, but a whole lot of other people’s days too! Pretty cool, huh?

Criticize Me Not

One of the hot topics among my Fishful Thinking peers is being your own biggest critic. No kidding, right? When asked the question about what brings out your inner critic, I was surprised to see – and then not really surprised to see – that many of the mom’s answers were similar to mine:

My inner critic is always around when I’m in one of those “parenting” situations where I could have done MUCH better…or when I feel like my kids could have done better (in public) and it’s perhaps a reflection on my parenting skills.

So what does this mean? If so many moms feel this way – what’s made us like this? Is it one or two moms who exude so much confidence at the park who make the rest of us feel like we’re not cutting it? Perhaps. But I suspect that those moms are also feeling the same way.

So what do we do about this? I’ve been trying to check my expressions at the door (or Park entrance…). Sometimes just a single look from another mom is enough to send me over the edge…she’s looking at me or my kids for just a split second too long, or raises an eyebrow at something…you know.  I’m trying to consciously exude an “Oh, I’ve SO been there – I feel your pain” to other moms.

But I’ve also been trying to stop putting “words” into other mom’s looks. Perhaps they’re just curious about how *I’LL* handle the situation, rather than thinking about how they’d do it so much better than I am. In difficult situations I’m also trying to remember all of the things I’ve handled exceptionally well (which, I must admit, is difficult to do while you’re in the moment!).

There’s a wonderful article about how to Accentuate the Positive. It’s written for how to help your child stay optimistic; but you can absolutely apply it to yourself as well. To paraphrase: Highlight your abilities. Promote your confidence by telling yourself specific things that you’ve done well and you’ll learn that positive outcomes are the result of your own actions. For example, if you’re really good at keeping your calm when one of your kids is picking on another one of your kids, mentally take note each and every time.

Another really helpful article is How to Be a Happier Mom. Some of the items touched on are pretty common sense ones, but sometimes it’s really good to be reminded. I know *I* need the reminder every now and again. And we all know that a happy mom is a relaxed mom. And a relaxed mom can tackle just about any situation thrown at her. 🙂

Fishful Thinking: Do Over!

Last week I wrote about dealing with disrespect. It’s gotten a little bit better, but we’re far from being over this (not too surprising!).

I was  looking for an activity to help with it all (and to compliment those awesome articles), when I stumbled on the Do Over activity. What I like best about this activity is that it’s not a one-time-sit-down-and-do-this activity; it’s ongoing! Oh, and it’s for everyone – not just the kids.

Basically, the article part states that kids are often embarrassed about something they’ve done wrong and get discouraged and don’t want to try again. It states that if we, as parents, start vocalizing our mistakes, it might help our kids get over it and realize that everyone makes mistakes. (I’m thinking this would help a lot of adults out there as well…)

The thing that really caught my attention was the example though:

…[You would say] “The way I said that sounded too bossy” and then call a “Do Over.” Try saying something like: “I call a Do Over. I’m going to say that in a kinder way,” and then try again.

It’s a do over for words too!! I absolutely need that for myself … and so does Burke. We’re both quick with our words (and our button-pushing-anger is typically right at the surface), so being able to take back something that was said without thinking it through is a wonderful way for us to start trying to actually think before we speak.

The suggestion is made to use a ball with the words “DO OVER” on it to ‘playfully’ remind younger kids about do overs. I’m not so sure about the ball (we’d probably need a do over for how the Do Over ball was thrown 😉 ) but I do like the idea of an object for a visual reminder.

Haven’t you ever wanted a do over? I bet your kids have too.